51: Super 8 (Cinema)

Super 8 is an homage to Spielbergian kids fantasy films of the early eighties. Its more than that actually, its DNA is plainly on display. Its Mom (correct word in this context) is ET, its Dad is The Goonies. We have a gang of kids (Goonies) who discover something remarkable and alien (ET). And its interesting that the setting, and the characters hark back to a bucolic seeming small town America which I get the sense that JJ Abrams believes doesn’t quite exist any more. You get the sense the turning point was rap music (the music in Super 8 is all over the place, though follows the “if in doubt, use ELO” model).

Anyway we have an annoying kid gang like the Goonies, plus themes of childhood difficulty laid on far too thick like ET. This does explore the other side of ET’s parental problems, and displaying some kids without mothers, for little point beyond plot reasons. But Abrams film is an unruly child, rebelling on its parents, at its heart Super 8 has a juxtaposition between the suspenseful kids films that Spielberg was interested in, and the films these kids are actually interested in – horror. So not only does it dissolve into an oddly horrific alien attacks movie in places, it tries to have a Spielberg ending as well. These two don’t merge well together and t does not manage to credibly insert its own child heroes into the monster movie last third of the film.

Plus four million lens flares. They must be a joke. There are lens flares in scenes with no light sources.

52: Attack The Block (Cinema)

Attack The Block is an homage to John Carpenter horror films of the late seventies. But it does it in a very different way to Super 8. Rather than set it in the late seventies, its bang up to date (perhaps too much with a bang). Instead of trying to recreate the setting to tell a story that Spielberg probably wouldn’t have told, the setting and characters are contemporary, the concerns and story are pure Carpenter. It is exactly what if aliens turned up not in a sleepy fishing village, or Arctic research station, but a South London estate (fortuitously on bonfire night).

Neither films have aliens which are convincing the moment you leave the cinema, but Attack The Block’s are when you are watching the screen. In particular, as lovingly well made as Super 8 is, it feels like redundant nostalgia. Attack The Block feels a little too bang up to date. Still if anyone does not understand the riots in London in the last few weeks, and thinks of England as just cricket and afternoon tea, Attack The Block is an excellent primer. With aliens.

Film 2Oh!! is an attempt to write about every film I have seen this year which is really quite tricky. This year I have seen 169 films, written about 52.